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University Appoints Performing Arts School Head

University Appoints Events Maestro To Head New Performing Arts School

Prominent Auckland impresario Alan Smythe has been appointed director of The University of Auckland’s new School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Mr Smyth, the man behind the largest performing arts events in the country – the Opera in the Park, Starlight Symphony and Christmas in the Park concerts in the Auckland Domain — takes up his new appointment immediately.

An honours graduate and former lecturer at the University, Mr Smythe says a shared commitment to fostering the performing arts in New Zealand prompted him to accept the position.

“Throughout my career in the events industry I have strived to help develop and promote New Zealand artists for our performing arts industry.

“The University of Auckland is working towards the same goal and the new School of Creative and Performing Arts brings to fruition its vision of identifying and nurturing new creative talent.

“SCAPA will deepen the University’s already significant contributions to the performing arts industry in New Zealand by providing both a strong academic programme and a state of the art performance facility.

“It is an endeavour I thoroughly support and hope by adding my experience to this new venture I can contribute to its long-term success.”

Mr Smythe has been organising major entertainment events in New Zealand for many years. His large-scale outdoor concerts such as Starlight Symphony, Opera in the Park and Christmas in the Park events have, since 1992, been attended by enormous crowds and raised about $8 million for charity. He also managed the stadium operas Carmen and La Traviata.

In 1998 he won the Entertainer of the Year award for best promoter, and best production with Carmen, staged at the North Shore stadium.

In 1999 he received an Entrepreneur of the Year outstanding achievement award for his contributions to the events industry. In the same year he also received a Distinguished Alumni award from The University of Auckland.

SCAPA opens its doors to students at the beginning of this academic year at its new home, the landmark former Television New Zealand building at 74 Shortland Street.

The historic brick building, to be called the Kenneth Myers Centre, has been extensively renovated. It will have studios for dance, opera, theatre, television, music and recording, rehearsal spaces, production facilities, lecture rooms, an archive for Maori and Pacific music, an art gallery and a café. The facilities will be available not just for students, but creative and performing arts organisations.

“The University has been working closely with existing groups in the development of its plans for SCAPA, and I intend to ensure these links remain strong,” Mr Smythe says. “The Kenneth Myers Centre is a wonderful new facility for Auckland and one of my goals will be to see it used to maximum benefit.”

The Dean of Arts, Professor Doug Sutton, says Mr Smythe’s vast experience in event management and proven ability to conceive and organise major events will ensure the new school will become a central fixture in the Auckland arts scene.

“SCAPA will enable the University to bring to life exciting programmes through live performances, an eminent visitors programme, master classes, small group mentoring, and a junior schools programme.

Professor Sutton says SCAPA will also see the University working even more closely with New Zealand’s creative and performing arts community.

“Students will have the opportunity to be involved in the ‘real-world’ activities of these creative and performing arts organisations. Prominent members of these groups will be invited to teach part-time at SCAPA,” he says.

Students enrolling in SCAPA will study in various fields of creative and performing arts such as dance, music and jazz, within a Bachelor of Arts degree. Diploma, honours and doctoral level qualifications are also available, as well as a Masters in Creative and Performing Arts.

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